From natural disasters to terrorist attacks, safety when travelling remains a priority for outbound South African travellers.
While no one organisation or destination can guarantee visitor safety, don’t allow fear to stop you from having the enriching experiences only travel can bring.
Instead, maximise your peace of mind when travelling and minimise risk.
How? The answer may surprise you.
Global booking patterns show that tech-savvy millennials are driving the resurgence of the travel agent.
Recent figures shared by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) show 55% of millennials are most likely to use a travel agent, advisor, consultant or travel expert, as many qualified professionals prefer. That’s compared to just 42% of Gen Xers and 28% of Baby Boomers.
Travel and hospitality company MMGY Global reported after its 2018 study that 33% of Millennials ‘will use a travel agency in the next two years’. Here’s why:
On the ground guidance:
Often, media reports and government advisories, fake news sites and social media, can sensationalise or distort details of or after an incident. An earthquake off one coastline, for example, doesn’t mean that the other side of the country is affected at all.
“Travel agents have access to ground operators and global networks of contacts and partners that the average traveller simply won’t have access to in every destination around the world,” says Sue Garrett, General Manager of Marketing and Product at the Flight Centre Travel Group.
“This is incredibly valuable when considering, researching, booking and travelling to a destination that you may be unsure of.”
In a foreign country, where you may not have data or signal, face language barriers or struggle to get hold of your embassy, a travel advisor is contactable. Bonafide travel agencies will all have emergency numbers and after-hours contacts that you can call.
Be sure to save those details in multiple places before departing. Just don’t call your travel advisor at 3 am wanting to change your flight in three days when it’s not an actual emergency.
In a recent Skift poll, 54% of respondents identified 'transformational travel' as a priority when they travel.
To avoid things going wrong (booking a hotel in a different area from where you wanted to be, travelling to see a natural event at the wrong time or arriving at the wrong airport), a travel agent’s expertise and itineraries tailor-made to your interests and priorities trumps D-I-Y planning.
They have access to product you don’t:
Travel agents have quicker access to more types of travel inventory, including differing airfare classes, hotel upgrades and value-adds (such as that bottle of champagne in your honeymoon suite or transfers included).
These deals are also often specially negotiated based on volume and the relationship between the travel agent and the supplier, be it an airline or cruise company. That can mean a lower price or a better value experience.And don’t be caught out when it comes to pricing.
An offer you find online may appear cheaper at first glance but compare apples with apples. The deal probably doesn't include essentials or extras, and you’ll end up paying more.
Peace of mind:
For peace of mind and to avoid falling for scams by fraudsters, don’t just book with any travel agent. The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) represents, vets and promotes professional service in the travel industry.
More than 95% of South Africa’s travel industry belong to ASATA. While even a travel advisor can’t guarantee your complete safety when travelling, peace of mind knowing that you know what to do should the unexpected happen, and that you’ve got the best possible value from your trip, goes a long way when you’re thousands of kilometres from home.